Egypt. India. The Ukraine. Oprah tried to show viewers what life's like for married women in these places via her "Marriage around the World" show Wednesday. Unfortunately, the Queen of Talk came up short, delving into tired subjects such as Muslim women and the head scarf, mail order brides from Eastern Europe and why anyone would choose arranged marriage. What's more is that while profiling women from around the globe, Oprah not only reinforces stereotypes about women of color but also argues that women from Denmark are the ones to be emulated. The not-so-subtle message? White Western women have it best, while others continue to lead pitiable, backwards lives.
Can we talk about the food thing? It wasn't particularly cute when Aaron Sorkin made Republican blonde Ainsley Hayes' thing her prodigious appetite, and it's sort of unsettling how Liz's unhealthy and emotional relationship with food is played as hysterical now.
Talk about a case of reality TV hitting close to home: students at a beauty college in Alameda, California, found out that the owners of the college had been shopping around the following reality TV proposal:
"The students are mostly inner-city, unwed mothers taking advantage of government subsidies for a better life. The instructors can't find any other job that offers 'bennies' [benefits]. The new owners are white, naive suburbanites bleeding cash and trying to keep it all under control."
Is this show really another iteration in the genre of mainstream women's "service" entertainment, where "service" is defined as "we will have a lot of contempt for you unless you conform to these commercial norms?"
As you may know already, Amanda Simpson is the first openly transgendered Presidential appointee; Obama selected her as Senior Technical Adviser at the Commerce Department's Bureau of Industry and Security. Unfortunately, this historical moment is nothing but cheap laughs on late-night television.
Transcript and more after jump...
Rachel Maddow is calmly comfortable with her intellect and her journalistic instincts, and she's not really going to apologize if her competence threatens a viewer. In terms of female talking heads, she is sui generis.
I don't know about you, but I see being a stay-at-home parent as a job,
and it's sort of insane that it's one of the few workplaces where you
get on-the-job critiques from total strangers via a talking box. Sure,
you can turn off the TV, but why should you have to?
It's easy to point fingers at narrative television sometimes and claim the writers are foisting outdated and unfair gender roles onto the audience and therefore, by extension, society. Reality TV pokes a lot of holes in the Big Hollywood theory, because the people who thrive on reality TV are the ones who are crafting -- and benefiting -- from a stock trade in stereotypes.
When it takes shows explicitly set on other planets, in other universes and in alternate realities to consistently bring us complex female characters not hemmed in by sexist narrative conventions, it is time to take a look at what's going on in shows set on this planet.